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Make a quilt - the first block

29 January 2015 08:00

How’s your planning going?  Have you found / bought / somehow acquired the fabric you need for your quilt top?

If you need help with choosing colours, I found this tutorial on colour the other day on She Can Quilt.

Alternative Patterns

Having said last time that we would go with the ‘bar chart’ quilt, I had another look at the site where I saw the design.  (Stitched in Color.)  There are two other quilts there which I decided I liked better!  I made a block of each and will show you how I made them, in a separate post tomorrow.  If you have some experience, you may prefer to use one of these.  However, the ‘book stack’ quilt would be tricky to use as a sew-along.  Each strip of the block is different and depends on what you have available.  It’s a great way to use up little scraps of different lengths and widths, but you’re on your own with the maths on that one!

I love the feel of movement in the ‘sound wave’ quilt below and it’s fairly straight-forward to make.  However, after my second thoughts, I decided, on third thoughts, that I should stick with what I said last time.


Cut out your first block

So, let’s get started on the ‘bar chart’ quilt.  

We will make this in blocks, each block having 7 strips.  My quilt will have 6 blocks, so each block is roughly one colour of the rainbow.  I shall start at the beginning and make the blocks in order, which will make it easier to keep an eye on the colours.  I’m starting with red, except that I’m using pink (mostly dark pinks, using a variety of designs mostly from Paysmage.)  I have a couple of designs which have pink and orange on them, so they will link to the orange.  The orange and yellow will share a block, because I haven’t got a lot in those colours.  An alternative way would be to use each colour of the rainbow in each block, as in the 'sound wave' block above.  Or, of course, you can use random colours, as in the photo above.

The tricky bit of this pattern is that, as well as matching the colours, you need to match the length of the strips.  If you are using new fabric, or larger pieces from your stash, you can put the pieces in colour order and then cut the right length.  However, if you’re using scraps, you will need to take the size of your scraps into consideration as well.  For instance, the pink and orange patch, 2nd from the right below, had to go where a short ‘bar’ fitted, because that was literally all I had!  Fortunately, with this design, it’s not critical.  You probably want your bars to go up and down fairly smoothly, but the odd big jump here and there won’t matter at all.

If you are making a quilt where all the patches are the same size, you usually cut everything out, then lay them out to arrange them.  However, I think with this pattern it will be easier to make one block at a time, maybe thinking about the next block at the same time, but not doing too much about it.

First arrange your fabrics into colour order.  If you take a photo of your final arrangement of strips, you can refer back to it later, when you forget what order you'd decided to put the strips!  (Don't ask me how I learnt this tip!)

Each strip will need to be 8½" long.  (7½" plus 4 seam allowances.) This will be made up of varying lengths of your printed fabric and plain.  If you have enough fabric, you may prefer to cut about 7” of each printed and plain strip so that you can decide on the length of the printed part later.

For one block you need 7 strips of patterned and 7 strips of plain (mine is white, so I’ll call it white from now on), each one 2” wide and between 1“ and 7” long.

(You will have noticed that my pink fabric has magically turned blue.  That's because I forgot to take a photo of this stage and didn't have enough of the right fabrics to repeat it for the camera.  Sorry!)

Start sewing

Stitch a short side of a white strip to a short side of a patterned strip, using a ¼" seam.

Press the seam towards the patterned fabric.  Repeat for all strips.

Lay out your strips to check that they are still in the right order and that each one is OK.  Slightly wonky seams are OK, but if it’s too wonky, the next seam won’t work.  This robin strip is a bit too far off straight.  Using such narrow seam allowances means that there isn't much room to adjust it in the seam.  So, it's the quick unpick for that one!  (Or I could chop it off and add a slightly longer white strip!  It's a very forgiving pattern.)

Sew strips 1&2, 3& 4 and 5&6 together – always using a ¼" seam.  Press the seams in one direction.

Now join these three strips together (check the order first!) and add the last strip.  

Press the seams in the same direction as the previous seams.

Trim across the top of the block (the white section), so that the total length is 8".

Your first block is completed!  Sit down with a cup of tea and admire your handiwork!



For the pink block, I used (L to R): Paysmage's lizard gecko fuschia unusual stripes (large and small), lizard gecko fuschia, Art on Fabric's colour chart; Paysmage's Take off your shoes and watch the sunset multicolour, cat damask pink and tutti frutti sunset large.

For the blue block, I used (L to R): Sarah Summers' Here Kitty Kitty soft aqua, Snow Birds pale jade, Snow Birds; Rowena Taylor's Robin; Paysmage's poisfleursbleu; Tiffany Blue Cats by Magenta Rose.

All these designs are available in our Market Place.

'String Fever' Quilts from Stitched in Color.